Boston Properties plans 1M sf tower at ex-MTA HQ

Developer filed for office building near Grand Central

Boston Properties CEO Owen Thomas and 343 Madison Avenue (Boston Properties, Getty Images)
Boston Properties CEO Owen Thomas and 343 Madison Avenue (Boston Properties, Getty Images)

It’s been a long road, but Boston Properties is one step closer to building its big office tower on the former site of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s headquarters.

The developer filed plans Friday for a 982,000-square-foot office building at 343 Madison Avenue, Crain’s reported. The building is slated to stand 780 feet tall, shorter than the developer’s original plans for a 1,050-foot-tall property.

The ground floor will have retail space, while the rest of the Kohn Pedersen Fox-designed building will have office and mechanical space. Construction is expected to wrap up by 2026.

Last year, Boston Properties filed a land use application for the Midtown site, wanting to replace the former MTA HQ site and three adjacent lots with a supertall tower. The developer initially proposed a 925,000-square-foot building, so while it has shrunk in height, it has grown in square footage.

Earlier in 2021, Boston Properties filed applications to demolish the three buildings at the development site, including the 15-story building that once housed the MTA’s headquarters.

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The MTA reportedly bought 347 Madison Avenue for $11.9 million in 1979 and the adjacent sites for $12.25 million and $23.75 million, respectively, in 1991. In 2013, the agency began seeking bids to demolish and rebuild the site. The MTA moved to 2 Broadway, but kept paying roughly $4 million to maintain its former building.

Boston Properties was chosen as the winning bidder in 2016, but the city objected over questions on the developer’s share of owed property taxes. After the pandemic brought a financial strain onto the city and the MTA, the two sides reached an agreement to move forward.

It’s been projected the site could generate upwards of $1 billion in revenue for the MTA over a 99-year ground lease. Proceeds from the lease would benefit capital improvements, which will include widening stairs at several subway sections in Grand Central, as well as extending the passageway for the 7 train.

— Holden Walter-Warner